Yet another case study on the mind of a postabortive woman.
When I attended my Rachel's Vineyard retreat about a year and a half ago, I received this little angel. It's kind of a handmade ornament and very pretty. One of the suggestions at the retreat was to put it up on your Christmas tree as a memorial to your unborn child who you lost (lost? killed? allow to be taken? sigh....)
At the time it sounded like a good idea. What I didn't realize when I left my retreat which was mid-summer, was that for the next year - I would be confronted with each and every holiday and milestone now with Grace fully present in my mind. Like anyone who has lost someone they love, or lost someone and later had regrets about, etc., holidays and other important milestones can royally suck. I came to realize I had a slew of them on the horizon but I was determined to find a way to have Grace in my mind and memory and take a few moments at each one and remember her in my own way, allow myself to feel the grief I never addressed before, and then move on because that is what I believe she would want me to do. I often feel as though she doesn't want to look down on me crying and miserable, I like to think she's up there looking down with great excitement and happiness. When I allow my mind to go to the place where I'm thinking she has to hate me for what I did, I have to talk myself out of it and remind myself that I wasn't in the decision to abort alone - in fact I wasn't part of the decision at all. And, if Grace is in Heaven - where there is to be no more pain or suffering or sadness, then she has to be looking down on me and my family with joy. I digress... I'll blame that discourse on doubt on the Catholic forum I frequent where more than one person was trying to convince other people that babies who die without baptism cannot possibly, under any circumstance be in heaven due to the "rules" and basically labeled PJII a heretic for saying as much in an address to postabortive women. Can't we all just get along?
Back to the angel... last Christmas, which was the first when I was to memorialize Grace in some way since it was the first Christmas that I was outwardly recognizing her and all that happened to me over 20 years ago, I completely forgot about the angel ornament entirely until after Christmas. When I was taking the tree down while the kids were at school it hit me, that it was sitting in my nightstand drawer in a box with all my other little treasurers from the retreat.
What ensued then was what postabortive women go through constantly, for the most part, for their entire lives (much like exhibited in this very post). A constant battle of wills, good versus evil, self assurance vs. self punishment, belief in God's mercy versus despair. I'm not sure I'll ever fully win any of these battles to the point where they don't rear their head at some point in time, but I do handle it much better for the most part. Kind of depends on the day, the moment, the circumstances. This morning, I'm okay with it emotionally. It's there in the back of my mind. I'm alone at home now but luckily I have errands to run and things to do to keep my mind off of it.
A friend reminded me that the "enemy" who I'm assuming is the Devil will take every opportunity to screw with people. He's been screwing with me a lot lately, a whole lot and I'm not sure how to stop it. How many people have to tell me that aborting Grace was not my fault? How many times do I have to ask for some sign that I'm forgiven? How many times will I have to stomp down these doubts? I fear that it will be as many times as I stomped down the sheer thought of Grace for over twenty years as some kind of punishment. I know in my heart that the smallest of prayers could stop this screwing around with my mind but I won't take a moment to pause and do it which leads to more mind screwing.
I'm hoping that having the courage to bring the little angel down and place it on our beautiful Christmas tree would be the perfect way to end this particular battle, but I hesitate even still. It's still sitting upstairs - alone. Tucked away for no one to see, but I know it's there. Hidden from the world like I've hidden this shame for so long. What if I put it on the tree and someone asks about it. Just about all of the ornaments on our tree have a story or some special or sentimental meaning. My kids for sure will notice and wonder where it came from, where did I get it and why didn't I get them one - which if you have children you know that's usually the next question. This is one thing I hope they never get.
And if I put it on the tree - what's going to happen next. Will it throw me into a tailspin every time I see it, opening presents on Christmas morning with no presents for Grace. How many Christmases has she missed out on? What could I possibly give her to make it up to her?
It sounds so stupid when I think about - just put the angel on the tree! I wonder if anything will be that simple for me? Here's to courage and hopefully the angel doesn't spend another Christmas in a box.